Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a


Chapter 32—Death of Moses

Moses was soon to die, and he was commanded of God, before his death, to gather the children of Israel together, and relate to them all the journeyings of the Hebrew host since their departure from Egypt, and all the great transgressions of their fathers, which brought his judgments upon them, and compelled him to say that they should not enter the promised land. Their fathers had died in the wilderness, according to the word of the Lord. Their children had grown up, and to them the promise was to be fulfilled of possessing the land of Canaan. Many of these were small children when the law was given, and they had no remembrance of the grandeur of the event. Others were born in the wilderness, and lest they should not realize the necessity of their obeying the ten commandments, and all the laws and judgments given to Moses, he was instructed of God to recapitulate the ten commandments, and all the circumstances connected with the giving of the law. 4aSG 52.2

Moses had written in a book all the laws and judgments given him of God, and had faithfully recorded all his instructions given them by the way, and all the miracles which he had performed for them, and all the murmurings of the children of Israel. Moses had also recorded his being overcome in consequence of their murmurings. 4aSG 53.1

All the people were assembled before him, and he read the events of their past history out of the book which he had written. He read, also, the promises of God to them if they would be obedient, and the curses which would come upon them if they were disobedient. 4aSG 53.2

He related to the people his great sorrow because of his fault at Meribah. “And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand; for what God is there in Heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me. And the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes; for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” 4aSG 53.3

Moses told them that for their rebellion the Lord had several times purposed to destroy them. But he had interceded for them so earnestly that God had graciously spared them. He reminded them of the miracles which the Lord did unto Pharaoh and all the land of Egypt. He said to them, “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it.” 4aSG 53.4

Moses especially warned the children of Israel against being seduced into idolatry. He earnestly charged them to obey the commandments of God. If they would prove obedient, and love the Lord, and serve him with their undivided affections, he would give them rain in due season, and cause their vegetation to flourish, and increase their cattle. They should also enjoy especial and exalted privileges, and should triumph over their enemies. He related to them the advantages of the land of Canaan over that of Egypt. In certain seasons of the year, the cultivated lands in Egypt had to be watered from the river, by machinery, which was worked by the foot. This was a laborious process. 4aSG 54.1

Moses said to them, “For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs. But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven. A land which the Lord thy God careth for. The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” 4aSG 54.2

Many of the Egyptians paid that devotion to the river which belonged alone to God. They acknowledged it as their god, because they were dependent on its waters to quench their thirst, and to use upon their lands to cause vegetation to flourish; and it liberally supplied their tables with fish. 4aSG 54.3

During the plagues on Egypt Pharaoh was punctual in his superstitious devotion to the river, and visited it every morning, and as he stood upon its banks he offered praise and thanksgiving to the water, recounting the great good it accomplished, and telling the water of its great power; that without it they could not exist; for their lands were watered by it, and it supplied meat for their tables. The first plague which visited Egypt was to come upon the waters, one of the exalted gods of Pharaoh. Moses smote the waters before Pharaoh and his great men, and they saw the waters which they were adoring turned to blood. It was a putrid mass for seven days, and all the fish that were in it died. The people could not use the water for any purpose. 4aSG 54.4

Moses instructed the children of Israel in an earnest, impressive manner. He knew that it was his last opportunity to address them. He then finished writing in a book all the laws, judgments and statutes which God had given him; also, the various regulations respecting sacrificial offerings. He placed the book in the hands of men in the sacred office, and requested that for safe keeping it should be put in the side of the ark, for God's care was continually upon that sacred chest. This book of Moses was to be preserved, that the judges of Israel might refer to it if any case should come up to make it necessary. An erring people often understand God's requirements to suit their own case, therefore the book of Moses was preserved in a most sacred place, for future reference. 4aSG 55.1

Moses closed his last instructions to the people by a most powerful, prophetic address. It was pathetic and eloquent. By inspiration of God he blessed separately the tribes of Israel. In his closing words, he dwelt largely upon the majesty of God, and the excellency of Israel, which would ever continue if they would obey God, and take hold of his strength. He said to them, “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall say, Destroy them. Israel, then, shall dwell in safety alone. The fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also, his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel. Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the word of thy excellency? And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.” 4aSG 55.2

Joshua was selected of God to be Moses’ successor in leading the Hebrew host to the promised land. He was most solemnly consecrated to the future important work of leading, as a faithful shepherd, the people of Israel. “And Joshua, the son of Nun, was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him. And the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses.” And he gave Joshua charge before all the congregation of Israel, “Be strong and of a good courage; for thou shalt bring the children of Israel unto the land which I sware unto them, and I will be with thee.” He spoke to Joshua in God's stead. He also had the elders and officers of the tribes gathered before him, and he solemnly charged them to deal justly and righteously in their religious offices, and to faithfully obey all the instructions he had given them from God. He called heaven and earth to record against them, that if they should depart from God, and transgress his commandments, he was clear, for he had faithfully instructed and warned them. 4aSG 56.1

“And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho, and the Lord shewed him all the land to Gilead, unto Dan. And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed. I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley, in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” 4aSG 56.2

Moses ascended to Pisgah, the highest prominence of the mountain which he could attain, and there his clear and undimmed eyes viewed the land, the promised home of Israel. God opened before his sight the whole land of Canaan. He there in the mount fully realized the rich blessings Israel would enjoy if they would faithfully obey the commandments of God. 4aSG 57.1

It was not the will of God that any one should go up with Moses to the top of Pisgah. There he stood, upon a high prominence upon Pisgah's top, in the presence of God and heavenly angels. After he had viewed Canaan to his satisfaction, he lay down, like a tired warrior, to rest. Sleep came upon him, but it was the sleep of death. Angels took his body and buried it in the valley. The Israelites could never find the place where he was buried. His secret burial was to prevent the people from sinning against the Lord by committing idolatry over his body. Moses had accomplished much for Israel. In all his instructions to them could be seen justice, intelligence and purity. 4aSG 57.2

The life of Moses was marked with supreme love to God. His piety, humility and forbearance gave him influence with the host of Israel. His zeal and faith in God were greater than those of any other man upon the earth. He had often addressed his people in words of stirring eloquence. No one knew better than he how to move the affections of the people. He conducted all matters connected with the religious interests of the people with great wisdom. 4aSG 57.3

Satan exulted that he had succeeded in causing Moses to sin against God. For this transgression, Moses came under the dominion of death. If he had continued faithful, and his life had not been marred with that one transgression, in failing to give to God the glory of bringing water from the rock, he would have entered the promised land, and would have been translated to Heaven without seeing death. Michael, or Christ, with the angels that buried Moses, came down from Heaven, after he had remained in the grave a short time, and resurrected him, and took him to Heaven. 4aSG 57.4

As Christ and the angels approached the grave, Satan and his angels appeared at the grave, and were guarding the body of Moses, lest it should be removed. As Christ and his angels drew nigh, Satan resisted their approach, but was compelled, by the glory and power of Christ and his angels to fall back. Satan claimed the body of Moses, because of his one transgression; but Christ meekly referred him to his Father, saying, “The Lord rebuke thee.” Christ told Satan that he knew that Moses had humbly repented of this one wrong, and no stain rested upon his character, and his name in the heavenly book of records stood untarnished. Then Christ resurrected the body of Moses, which Satan had claimed. 4aSG 58.1

At the transfiguration of Christ, Moses was sent with Elijah, who had been translated, to talk with Christ in regard to his sufferings, and be the bearers of God's glory to his dear Son. Moses had been greatly honored of God. He had been privileged to talk with God face to face, as a man speaketh with his friend. And God had revealed to him his excellent glory, as he had never done to any other. 4aSG 58.2